A free demo is playable in the browser above.

The Story

Set in a high fantasy world with low fantasy stakes, the character-driven story of The Salt Keep follows a struggling merchant named Doyle who stumbles into a life-or-death mystery. During the last legs of a months-long journey as a traveling salesman, Doyle stops in the seemingly deserted village of Cardwyke to meet a friend who has promised to help keep him financially afloat, but what he finds is even more dangerous than the crushing weight of debt. 

Over the course of a single night, Doyle delves into the mystery of what happened to Cardwyke and the Salt Keep, struggles to escape the seemingly unstoppable forces pursuing him, and hopes to find anybody who can free him of his debt. He meets friends and foes along the way: a wounded merchant who has seen better days, a bitter stablehand in search of a plan, and a forlorn apprentice desperate to become an alchemist, among others. Some are helpful, and some need help, but in every case, his choices impact the paths of their lives as much as his own.  

The Setting

The world of The Salt Keep should be familiar to any fan of fantasy — it has breastplates, and swords, and other fun stuff like that — but is shaped by the vaguely industrial creep of bastard feudalism. Sprawling merchant conglomerates and faceless business structures pull the levers of power as much as dukes and knights.

The world is meant to be both a reflection of traditional fantasy settings (the England-coded sword and sorcery and D&D-style locations we're used to) and an answer to some of their most frustrating tropes. It's not a world of prophesied heroes steeped in Great Man Theory or of grimdark anti-heroes exposing the essential evil of humanity, but of ordinary medieval schlubs trying to survive within alienating and oppressive political systems.

In other words, it's not a world a character like Doyle has any hope or intention of changing. He only means to survive.

The Gameplay

The Salt Keep is a fantasy/horror text adventure and RPG: think interactive fiction with mechanics reminiscent of CYOA games or classic gamebooks. The entirety of the action is described through text, and the player navigates and makes choices via button inputs. Through these basic mechanics, you'll be able to:

  • Guide Doyle through the village and the towering keep that looms above it.
  • Collect items and discover their uses.
  • Equip gear to improve Doyle's ability scores.
  • Succeed or fail at percentage-based challenges.
  • Earn experience and level up based on those challenges.
  • Talk to and work with NPCs to make progress.
  • Uncover secrets and missable areas.
  • Risk grievous bodily harm.

Despite the prevalence of choices and risks, there is no chance of death or dead-ends. The story always moves forward. In turn, you'll change the outcome of Doyle's story (as well as those of the NPCs) not just through the things you choose to do, but through the things you fail to do, as well as the things you choose to ignore.

The Demo

The demo above includes the prologue and first chapter of seven total chapters (including a prologue and epilogue). It should provide around two hours of gameplay, though it'll vary depending what you choose to do and how thorough you are. 

The full game is novel-length (about 260k words) and offers around 15 hours of gameplay for most players. Any progress you make in  the demo can also be transferred to the full version on any platform if you follow these instructions.  No technical knowledge is required!

If you want to help support development or keep track of updates:

Please enjoy, and be sure leave ratings and/or reviews on any platform where you purchase it! I'm a solo indie dev, so word of mouth makes a massive difference.

WARNING: The narrative includes all sorts of violence and generally negative emotional states, which can vary based on your individual play-through.

Purchase

Buy Now$4.99 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $4.99 USD. You will get access to the following files:

The Salt Keep (Mac) 78 MB
The Salt Keep (Mac w/ Older M1 Chip) 82 MB
The Salt Keep (Windows) 80 MB

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Comments

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how do i unlock the two modes, hotshot and sadsack? checking hotshot in settings does nothing.

They unlock after game completion, for a second playthrough

i checked hotshot mode. 

however, i still fail at skill checks.

im really stuck in the game.

im on chapter 2. i've finished defeating the guards at the main hall. i gave some carrots and sheetcake to blondy. i can't find a way to progress. what do i do?

At that point it'll depend exactly what else you've done, but basically:

// SPOILERS AHEAD

The key places you need to have been in chapter 2 are to the great hall (which sounds like you have been), to the dungeon below the storage room, and to the bell tower above the steward's bedroom.  

You'll find items in the great hall and dungeon, which you can use up at the bell tower.

// SPOILERS DONE

If you're still stuck, or if you think you're running into some kind of bug, let me know on Discord, I can get into more detail.

(1 edit)

i sent you a friend request on discord. i don't know how to send messages without doing so. just wanted to notify you that its me. my discord username starts with dark.

hi.

on ios, when i have to make choices, will i be typing them or will it be like menus? im asking as i've never played this type of games before on ios.

It's all via button presses, no typing involved. 

(+1)

thanks for telling me. sorry for so many questions.

thanks alot!

when i buy this on ios, how would i send you a proof? i can't take pictures of the screen since im blind.

Ah OK, just letting me know is fine, honor system! Message me somewhere with private messages (like Twitter or Discord) and I can send it to you.

i was just wondering. if i buy this game on ios, will i ave to buy again on pc?

Yeah, they're all separate apps so there's really nothing connecting them between platforms. That said, if you do get it on iOS and send me a receipt or something like that, I'd be happy to pass you a download code on here. 

(+1)

Hi, I'm also a totally blind player and am loving it so far. However, I might have found a bug. This is from the demo. I'm on chapter 2, and I can not search the bunks room even though my luck is 11, according to my stats. Spoilers: I've requipt the torch and even though my luck is 11 it's still saying luck 11 required.

Thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying it! On a first try I'm not able to reproduce this, but perhaps something's communicating wrong via screen reader. Does your character currently have any injuries? Also, what kind of device are you using?

If you're up for it, feel free to export your save using the option under settings and send it to me (via pastebin, or whatever) and I can see if I can find anything.

Aah, yes my character had injuries and I didn't have a way to heal. I only managed to get a healing item in chapter 1 but by chapter 2 I'd sustained three injuries before realizing how to use the item. So at the attic, my character's health was wounded, and still is. I've put my paste below. https://pastebin.com/YkCBvLYq

Looks like the pastebin is expired already. I'll keep looking, though. If you had injuries, my guess is that's the problem - each injury lowers your stats by 1 until it's healed, which seems to be working as expected visually, but maybe it's miscommunicating something with the screen reader.

does this support screen readers like nvda or does it use self-voicing of the os?

The only screen reader I've personally tested with is the OS self-voicing. That said, it's built with Electron (essentially running its own packaged Chromium), so in all likelihood, any screen reader that works with Chrome should work with it too.

(+1)

is it also accessible on ios?

Yes! In fact, most of the direct feedback I've received on accessibility has actually been specific to the iOS version via the AppleVis community. 

does/will this game have sfx or music?

No, there's no sound. OS self-voicing works for accessibility, but there's no sfx or music built in.

I'm stuck in the Great Tower, I've done everything I think I can, including breaking down the door to see the comatose guy, and seeing the Attwater woman's corpse, and opening the treasure chamber in the Main Hall.

What do I do now?

Hey, thanks for playing - I hope you're enjoying it!

// SPOILERS AHEAD

The key thing where you are is whether you've read the note that was with the Atwater woman. If you have, it'll point you to the safe room in the bottom floor of the tower and you'll have some new options there (the painting in particular).

// SPOILERS DONE

If you're still stuck, or if you think you're running into some kind of bug, please let me know. Feel free to DM me on Discord or anywhere else (same name everywhere), I'm happy to go into more detail if you want. Thanks!

(1 edit)

Hi there!
I am creating a collection of fully blind accessible games, and your game is listed under the "blind support tag".  The word "blind" means different things to different people, and within that wide spectrum their are various levels of expertise with visual UI's.  but as a fully blind gamer, I am wondering what features this game provides for those who can not see the screen at all.  Do you have "screen reader" or "text to speech" support?  Is your game fully playable with a keyboard or controller, rather than having to point the mouse at buttons on the interface? If the answer to those questions is no, it would still be great to know what options are provided for those with less severe visual impairments, so that I might make them aware of your game's usability for them.  Thank you for any information you can provide, it's very much appreciated! :)

(+1)

Hello,

Thanks for asking! The primary accessibility feature is screen reader support - the game is built with web tech, so it works very much like a browser. I don't have the expertise or resources to say much about the experience myself, but I've had some direct feedback from the AppleVis community using VoiceOver on the iOS version, and after some fixes at their suggestion, they seem quite pleased.

The game is entirely text-based (other than a handful of illustrations for flavor), so screen reader users can experience it in its entirety. It should also be fully playable with a keyboard, though it was designed for mouse or touchscreen first.

Controller support, on the other hand, is not something I've specifically implemented or tested for. I would assume it won't work, though I don't actually know either way.  

(+1)

Wow I had no idea this game already had input from blind players! Thank you very much. :)